Pressing its case to Kaiser workers to abandon the SEIU, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) has established a new website urging employees to vote in its favor in the representation election being conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The web site, www.kaisercoworkers.org, purports to answer questions by employees voting in the election, but is composed mostly of campaign-style advocacy. The site contains endorsements by members who assert NUHW will be a stronger and more rigorous bargaining representative than SEIU. For instance, it lambasts SEIU for establishing a “healthcare benefits takeaway committee” with Kaiser, and accuses SEIU of cooperating with Kaiser to allow cuts in employees’ pension plan, elimination of more than 1,700 jobs, and conversion of secure jobs into insecure “flex” positions. Ironically, however, the site also assures employees that their current contract will remain in place and that recent wage increases negotiated by the SEIU will not be lost if NUHW replaces SEIU.
The site also attempts to make a NUHW win in this mail-ballot election appear inevitable by claiming overwhelming support by the voters. NUHW claims that in support of its demand for an NLRB election, it collected signatures from 29,527 Kaiser workers, or more than two-thirds of those eligible to participate in the election, seeking NUHW membership. As a condition to holding an election, the NLRB requires a union to submit evidence showing 30% of eligible employees want to be represented by the union. In spite of that administrative rule, many unions do not actually seek an election to represent a particular group of employees unless they have received signatures from a strong majority of eligible voters. Employee signatures on cards or petitions do not always translate into “yes” votes in a secret ballot election. Mail ballots in this election must be returned to the NLRB by October 4.
SEIU v. NUHW has been called “a battle that threatens to rip a giant hole in the most powerful union in the nation’s largest state.” We expect more twists ahead as this contentious, history-making election continues toward a conclusion.
This entry was written by Fred Miner.